Rachel & Will | Engaged

Oh Rachel (fondly referred to as Litz) & Will, where do I start with these two!? I first met Will sophomore year of college at Mizzou when we were both selected for the Tour Team (my college job was being a campus tour guide--who's surprised?). The two of us were fast friends! Junior year while I was studying abroad, Litz joined the cool kid crew on TT. That summer we finally met and became instant BFFs bonding over our similarities (re: chatty cathies & type A qualities). We were the 3 best friends anyone could have, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy being their 3rd wheel senior year! 

This past June Will called me up and asked if I'd fly out to Denver and photograph him proposing to Rachel. I cried on the kitchen floor for about 10min until David told me I was being dramatic, because I had a friend's wedding in San Francisco that day (WHY can't you be in two places at once!?) It just about crushed me that I couldn't be there for them that day! Needless to say, I was THRILLED when Litz called me a few months later asking if I would fly to Denver to photograph their engagement photos. David & I had the absolute BEST weekend exploring Denver with these dear friends of mine! Rachel & Will--you truly are the hostess with the mostess! I had a blast photographing your sweet love and cannot wait to venture to Devil's Thumb Ranch in June for your nuptials! xox!

San Francisco | NorCal Part III

Our last stop was San Francisco. Though this was the most strenuous leg of the trip (my momma is a drill sergeant I tell ya!) it was definitely quite rewarding! I don't have many photos of our first day in SF because we were busy crushing some steps, but our itinerary was: ferry from SF to Sausalito, rented bikes and biked through Mill Valley, hiked to & around the Muir Woods, biked back to Sausalito, dinner at Barrel House Tavern in Sausalito with at stunning view, then ferry back to SF. That doesn't sound like much, but it was 39,000 steps and 144 flights of stairs--not including a few miles of biking! Safe to say we were beat and inhaled our dinner in silence. 

Our last day we took the ferry to Alcatraz (SO interesting--highly recommend! who knew this former prison is now a bird sancturary!?) then a hop on/hop off bus tour in the afternoon. We hadn't seen much of actual San Francisco so this was the perfect way to get a feel for all the neighborhoods and hear the history. We ended that night with a lovely dinner at Le Colonial (interesting French-Vietnamese menu. They have a location in Chicago, too!) with my mom's cousins before jetting off on a red eye home for our neighborhood's Fourth of July festivities. Despite the very large homeless population (see the photo of my sister Jacquie below, fitting in with the locals--it was SO cold), we really loved San Francisco. If the cost of living weren't so high, I could totally see myself living there!

Carmel & Highway 1 | NorCal Part II

The biggest item on my hit list for this trip was to see the Bixby Bridge (anyone else obsessed with the HBO series Big Little Lies?) and hike in Big Sur. Unfortunately, Big Sur was completely unaccessible due to the landslide, but Carmel won us over with its charm! We all absolutely adored this little town and definitely want to return. We drove from Carmel down to Big Sur until the road was entirely blocked off (with no detour!) just north of Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Despite not actually driving Highway 1 in Big Sur, the drive was the ABSOLUTELY dreamiest. Most of the photos below were from pulling over on the side of Highway 1 and hopping out to snap some pics. It was cloudy & chilly most of the week, but we were lucky that the sun peeked out just for us on this drive. The last photo below of the seals is from a hike we did on our way back at Point Lobos in Carmel--a nice alternative since Big Sur was closed. We all decided if one of us becomes a millionaire, they must buy a house in Carmel!!

Wine Country | NorCal Part I

David & I have covered a ton of ground this summer for both personal & work trips. We're laughing now, because at the beginning of summer we kept saying "we just need to get through June" but it turns out, the entire summer was a complete marathon for us! We've decided next summer we're going to mark one weekend a month on our calendars to stay put in Chicago so we don't feel like the summer passed us by again! A quick round-up of where I've been the past 3 and 1/2 months: Memphis TN, 100mi biked ride to New Buffalo MI, Northern California, our hometown for the 4th, Buffalo NY, South Haven MI, Dalton GA, Lake Geneva WI, Denver CO, & the Catskills NY. In the next 10 days I'll be back-to-back Buffalo NY - Ozark MO - Asheville NC. I absolutely love to travel and am loving this season of jetting off, but I'd be lying if I said I had no problem keeping up! 

Travel photography--especially with my family (built in models!)--is my absolute favorite, but often I want to stay in the moment and not be hidden behind my camera. This time I was feeling the photo bug so I'm pretty pleased that I actually captured most of our trip. It's been nice to look back on these photos since it was a whirlwind of a week!

So, here's the write-up of this trip. At the end of June my family (minus my dad & brother Steven--we missed you two!) attended a family friend's wedding in Russian River, CA. None of us had been to northern California before so we jumped at the opportunity to take a week and explore! My mom always wants tries to see as much of the world as possible so naturally, we hit all the stops in our time there. I split up this into a three part series --1. Wine Country, 2. Carmel & Highway 1, 3. San Francisco. Because we were covering so much ground in just a week, I was expecting to only love one or two places that I'd want to come back to. I was pleasantly surprised that everywhere we went was absolutely fantastic and I would jump at the opportunity to travel back to any of these spots again!! Locations of the places shown below:

Armstrong Redwoods State Park > Went on a quick hike here to see the Redwoods since it was just down the street from the wedding.

Dawn Ranch > Location of the wedding. We stayed in those cute cabins!

Bodega Bay > We hopped out of the car at sunset on our way from dinner at Fishetarian Fish Market to snap some photos on the side of the highway and found those stairs down to the beach

Moran Manor in Knights Valley/Calistoga > My sister Jacquie's friend's family owns & runs this vineyard. They live in the stunning Victorian Home they restored on the vineyard and gave us a tour of it! Hands down our favorite thing we did in wine country. It is a private vineyard with only ~3 tastings/month.

Chateau Montelena > Wine tasting complete with a castle and gardens! 

Las Alcobas Luxury Collection Hotel in St. Helena > A hotel by design firm I admire, Yabu Pushelberg, just opened so of course I had to check it out. Absolutely stunning property. Would definitely come back to stay here for a special occasion! All the lavender lined sidewalks around the property are just the prettiest at the golden hour, too!

Parent Trap House > The actual house from the 1998 film, The Parent Trap. The entire week my sisters and I were quoting lines from The Parent Trap (everything reminded us of the movie) so naturally, we had to make a stop to see it from the road!

Brix Restaurant & Gardens in Yountville > Farm to table restaurant. The patio overlooks the garden where the herbs & vegetables for your meal come from. We loved this!

White House Inn Napa > a boutique hotel/B&B my firm designed a few years ago. So nice to see the thriving property in person!

Laumann Family | Portraits

A few weeks ago I met this sweet family at a park in my hometown to capture some photos of their cute bunch before school starts. These 3 kiddos were so much fun and each have so much personality! Eric is a true super dad, launching each one over & over (towards the bottom) in the air. I couldn't believe how high they went! I absolutely love sessions like this where everyone is playing, being themselves and having a great time! In the last few full family photos out of nowhere Reese starting belting "You Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go." Her dad, Eric, joined in and everyone else had the biggest smiles. It was just about the cutest moment EVER. Those are the moments I love! Happy back-to-school, Laumanns!